I used to go into the week with little idea of how the days would be unfolding. If I did any planning, I wrote a jumbled list of tasks.
The problem with this approach is, that you quickly end up just working on your to-do list and getting lost in the nitty-gritty jobs, without any time to work ON your business, and moving it forward.
What you need instead is a plan and the proper tools.
Yep, not only a to-do list, but a proper plan, with projects, and tasks, and timings. Which is why I love Asana and this would be the first step I recommend you take when you want to be more productive – sign up for a free plan.
#1 Use a project management tool
Asana is a free tool that helps you organize all your projects and tasks. You can sign up on www.asana.com. I use the free plan and it’s amazing!
There are other tools you could use, for example Trello is very similar, though I found the free plan to have less features, and I also heard good things about Monday.
Probably none is perfect and ticks all the boxes, so choose one and stick with it and move on.
I use Asana to manage all my projects and tasks and I’m in there every day. If it’s in Asana, it gets done. It’s as simple as that. If you want to learn more about Asana, here I describe how to get started.
#2 Plan your week in advance
Every Sunday evening, I sit down and look at the week ahead. Asana has a calendar view of all my tasks and I can simply drag and drop them around and move them from day to day.
I have recurring tasks that show up every week, like scheduling my social media posts or sending out my newsletter. I also have client projects, websites I design for clients. And then there’s the weekly podcasting, creating new trainings for my membership the Blissful Biz Hive, support and Q&A sessions, launches and all that stuff that you do when you have an online business.
Every task belongs to a project and I try to divide each project in as many single tasks as needed. For example, for a website design this could be creating a style guide, setting up WordPress, installing plugins, designing the homepage and so on. Or if you organize a yoga workshop, it could be setting up the landing page, writing social media posts, planning your workshop content, testing zoom etc.
I wriggle all my tasks that I want to get done in the next week and add them to the day when I want to work on them.
This takes experience. When you’re just starting out, it will be difficult to know how much you will be able to get done. You don’t know yet how long each task will take you. This is fine. Give yourself some grace here and allow yourself to move things around when you have to. Over time it will get easier and you know how long things will take you.
#3 Have themes for each day of the week
On Monday I’m always doing more organizational stuff. I schedule all my social media, send out updates for the students of my programs and do things like my accounting.
This fits me because sometimes I’m not up to my best game on a Monday morning and this eases me into my workweek.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I do all my clients call and podcast interviews. I sometimes can have a lot of meetings on those days, but I also try to work on my client’s projects on those days as well.
On Thursday and Friday, I work on my business. I create content, for example I write scripts for new podcast episodes, I prepare launches, I film new trainings for my courses and memberships and stuff like this. I also try to plan time to work ON my business, for example for learning new things or brainstorming ideas for an upcoming promotion or analyzing results of a launch.
The secret here is to put these tasks in your calendar as well. Don’t leave it to chance, like analyzing results of a promotion or launch you’ve done, because then there’s a high chance that you will never get around to it because you’re already swamped in the next thing.
#4 Prioritize your tasks
Now I probably have quite a few tasks for each day of the week. And of course, some of them are more important than others, some are just routine tasks and some will only take a minute but I want them on my to-do list so I don’t forget about them.
Here’s what I do: each week I decide on my three main action items that I want to accomplish that week, and I do the same each morning.
These I write down in my paper planner. They are my non-negotiables. These tasks need to get done. Getting those tasks done will make sure that I’m moving forward with my business!
I don’t put things like answering emails in my non-negotiables. Here I select tasks like sending out three pitches to be a podcast guest, or creating a new freebie, or writing emails for my next launch.
A lot of productivity coaches say you should only have three tasks for each day. And that’s great in theory, but in most businesses you have a lot of small, routine tasks as well and if you don’t plan them, they can eat up your time or, worse, they don’t get done because you’re not allowed to put them on your to-do list, which isn’t helpful as well.
So having more tasks on my to-do list, but still identifying my 3 main tasks for the day, helps me stay focused AND get done what needs to get done.
And I feel really good when I tick them off. When I close down my computer for the night and I know that I got those three things done, it’s been a successful day. Even if there are other tasks that are still not done, those I just move to the next day or even the next week when I decide they are not as important right now and I won’t be able to get them done this week.
Here’s a pro tip for you:
You need to have a relaxed mindset about the whole thing. I want to be productive, I work as hard as I can, but if something takes longer than expected, if emergency items are added to my to do list that keep me from finishing my entire list: that‘s okay. That’s life. It’s okay to move things around and change deadlines where you can.
I probably still have too high expectations of what I can get done in 24 hours anyway, so this happens all the time to me and it probably will to you, too.
It’s all okay. I do what I can. I’m working really hard, but I fully accept the fact that I am human and that I need food, sleep, social activities and time to recharge. I use my weekends to recharge and I make sure to have something fun or relaxing things planned.
How much do I work in a week?
At the moment it’s around 35 hours. This might not sound like a lot, but this is super productive time, not scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or reading the news. Also, because I’m working alone, no coffee breaks chatting with a colleague.
I use Everhour to track my time and it integrates with Asana. I started using Everhour because I wanted to track the hours I was working on client projects, and it changed my life!
Before I used Everhour I sometimes felt like I was working a lot but didn’t see results. I had no idea where time went.
With Everhour, I can track the time I’m working on each task. It integrates with Asana and before I start working on a task, I start the timer. And when I’m finished, I stop the timer and the time I spent is added to my Everhour report.
That’s already amazing because you can see what you spent your time working on. But I seriously love Everhour because it’s forcing me to be mindful and focus on one task at a time. If I wanted to check my Instagram while I’m working on something, I would have to stop the timer and start it again. This makes me more mindful and really helps me focus.
And it’s not easy! When I’m not careful, I forget to press the button, I switch between tasks, and then my productivity goes downhill and at the end of the day I have no idea where the time went. It’s been a total game-changer!